Buenaventura and Sierra Metals scale back Peru operations

Compañia de Minas Buenaventura and Sierra Metals have become the latest companies to scale down activities in Peru following the government’s issuing of a supreme decree and declaration of a national emergency in order to contain the COVID-19 virus outbreak.

These restrictions currently remain in place for a 15-day period, commencing March 16, and have already seen Newmont, Anglo American and Freeport McMoRan scale back operations in the country.

Buenaventura, in accordance with these restrictions and within the framework of the company’s Pandemic Response Plan, as well as local and national health authority requirements and recommendations, says it will limit the activities of its operations to those which ensure functionality of its mine pumping systems, water treatment plants, energy supply, hydroelectric substations, health services as well as safety conditions including backfill and general support, among others.

Sierra Metals, meanwhile, has temporarily ceased mining operations at its Yauricocha mine (pictured), saying it continues to seek further clarity on the declaration and its impact on mining operations in Peru.

Both companies say they are prepared to immediately restart operations once they have received notice from federal and local authorities that it is appropriate to do so.

Buenaventura commented: “All operations and offices have implemented the appropriate travel restrictions, surveillance, monitoring and response plans to reduce the risk of COVID-19 exposure and outbreak, including health screening of contractors, visitors and employees when appropriate.

“In addition, individual operations continually assess the situation as it evolves and have limited external visitors to only those who are considered to be business critical. Each of its operations also continue to monitor and implement business continuity measures to mitigate and minimise any potential impacts of the global outbreak that might emerge on its operations, supply chain, commercial and financial activities.”

Sierra Metals President and CEO, Igor Gonzales, meanwhile, said: “We take the safety of our employees very seriously and have complied with the government’s requests. We have sent 470 staff home from the mine, while an emergency staff of 150 remain at the site.

“Management continues to follow the recommendations provided by the World Health Organization and Peruvian Health Authorities. We continue to monitor and seek clarity on the situation and will update shareholders and the market further as things progress.”

While Buenaventura did not mention its 2020 guidance in the release, it did say there had been no material impact to production or shipment of concentrate from any of the company’s operations to date as a result of COVID-19.

“Additionally, there has been no significant disruption to the supply chain of the company’s operations. Buenaventura’s central headquarters is in frequent contact with all individual operations and associated mine managers to ensure timely updates on the situation and provide any necessary logistical support,” the company said.

Sierra Metals said its guidance remains unchanged at this time, given Yauricocha had been running ahead of budget since the beginning of the year, and the company is ahead on 2020 production tonnage to date.

“Additionally, the mine has approximately 37,000 t of ore stockpiled at its processing mill, which represents more than two thirds of the ore needed by the mill during the disruption period and it can recommence production very quickly.

“Furthermore, the company has the operating flexibility to temporarily run the ore processing mill above the 3,150 t/d capacity, which should help Yauricocha recover lost ore tonnages from this stoppage.”

In addition to Buenaventura and Sierra Metals, Teck Resources announced that Compania Minera Antamina, in which Teck has a 22.5% interest, continues to operate the Antamina mine under an exemption from recently announced government restrictions.

it said critical operations will be maintained by a reduced workforce throughout the 15-day national emergency quarantine period, with appropriate precautions being taken by Antamina to protect its workforce during this “challenging period”.

The company clarified that there had been no confirmed cases of COVID-19 at the mine site and, assuming no further adverse developments in connection with COVID-19, any temporary reduction in production was expected to be recovered in line with existing 2020 guidance.